It took a full two weeks for my companions to arrive at Saragus’s family home. I spent my days getting to know my hosts as well as I could. The dark lord remained pleasant but distant and Fionnuala smiled at the two of us like she knew some amusing detail that only she was privy to. I couldn’t remember doing or saying anything offensive, but I decided to catch Saragus alone and apologize anyway. I couldn’t afford to upset him, after all, I was going to be working for him. My chance came after dinner, the day my crew was to arrive.
I nodded to the servants as I walked toward Saragus’s study. The door was open, usually that meant he wasn’t busy. I eased my head around the opening and saw him, standing with his arms behind his back, gazing out at the landscape. I watched him for a moment, so regal, elegant and at the same time, intimidating. His upbringing and circumstances had given him a certain air that Aiden lacked.
“Do you wish to stare at me all day, little one, or did you need something?”
His voice startled me. I would never get use to a Force user’s ability to sense someone’s presence. I stuttered out a reply.
“I..I didn’t mean to intrude, My Lord. I can come back later if you like.”
Saragus turned to look at me. “No. Come in. I was just about to send for you.”
He walked over and took a seat in one of the armchairs close to the window. “Please, sit down.”
I walked over and sat in the seat opposite him. “You were going to call for me?”
“Yes, but you sought me out, so please, by all means, tell me what you want of me, little one.”
Now that I was before him I didn’t know where to begin. I wasn’t even sure what I was apologizing for.
“I noticed, my lord, that the last few days you seem to barely tolerate my presence. Ever since our talk in the garden, you have seemed different. I am not aware of doing anything to offend you, but whatever I have said or done, I hope you will forgive me. I am not as cultured or as well mannered as your family, so I guess it could have been a lot of things, but I am truly sorry. I do want you to like me.”
All the while I talked, he sat perfectly still and looked at me. Facing down an army would have been less nerve racking. I could feel a trickle of sweat glide down the back of my neck as I waited for him to say or do something, anything.
His expression gave nothing away as he sat there and I waited. After what seemed like years, he spoke.
“It doesn’t happen often, but I am afraid I am at a loss for words.” Saragus ran his fingers through his hair before continuing. “It took courage to come to me and apologize for something unknown to you.” His brow wrinkled and a scowl appeared across his features. “Believe me, little Na’sha, you have nothing to be sorry for. It is I who should beg your forgiveness. I have behaved badly, my dear. I have a lot on my mind and a lot of worry has been placed on my shoulders.”
He leaned forward slightly, propping his elbows on his knees, folding his hands and placing his chin on them. His eyes never left me as he continued to speak. “My sister is in danger and my brother is with the Jedi. Nuala would argue that as the eldest, she should be the one to do the worrying and Aiden would say he can look after himself, but I worry about them, Na’sha. I would destroy the galaxy for either one of them.”
I could hear the passion in his voice as he spoke. There was no doubt in my mind that he meant every word. I couldn’t help but think that everyone should have someone in their life who cared for them so greatly.
“Now there is you.”
“Me?” The sound of his voice startled me from my thought.
“Yes, you, little one. You were involved with Aiden and through him, I learned of your situation with Sinka. I wanted you for the mission I had planned because it had already been thrown in your lap. Nuala believes you are destined to help us and I agreed. Now that we have gotten to know each other these last two weeks, I have grown fond of you. Sending you out on this mission will be dangerous and I find myself worrying now about your safety. That was not a worry that I expected to have.”
He paused for a moment. “I never meant for you to feel as though you had done something wrong; I do hope you understand and will overlook my rudeness.”
He looked at me intently awaiting my answer. He was worried about me? Well that was unexpected. I gave him a reassuring smile. “There is nothing to forgive. I merely misunderstood your actions. I am just glad you aren’t angry with me.”
He returned my smile. “Believe me, little one, I could never be angry at you.”
The way he said that made me slightly fidgety inside. I tried to change the subject.
“Now, what did you want to see me about, my lord?”
“Ah yes!” Saragus stood and walked across the room. He pulled a heavy looking box from behind his desk. “This is why I wanted to see you.” He smiled and motioned me toward him.
I stood and made my way to the large box. I looked at it and then at him.
“Go on, open it.”
I cautiously lifted the lid. I gasped as my eyes appraised the contents.
“I thought you’d need it soon. I hope you like it.”
Now I was at a loss for words. Nestled in the box was the most beautiful set of armor I had ever seen. I ran the tip of my finger over the chest-plate. It was gold, nothing gaudy or bright, but a pale gold; refined and definitely expensive. I let my fingers trace along the silver scroll-work; Mandalorian symbols and knots. It was gorgeous. I had never owned anything like it. I lifted the helmet out of the box. I felt close to tears.
“Well for goodness sake say something.” Saragus’s booming voice filled the silence, causing me to jump.
“It is Mandalorian.”
“You don’t like it?”
If didn’t know better I would have thought that was nervousness I heard in his voice, but a Sith being nervous over a gift was absurd.
“I love it, but it must have cost a fortune. I can’t accept this.”
“You can most certainly accept it and you will. Lets just say a certain Mandalorian armorer owed me a big favor and I collected. You will need a good set of armor. I can’t send you out on a mission unprepared, now can I?” Saragus’s voice softened as he continued. “Besides, Aiden cares for you and that makes you part of the family. You can accept gifts from family.”
I looked up into the Sith Lord’s smiling eyes. He thought of me as family? Aiden’s brother was different from anything I had expected him to be and not at all like a big, bad Sith.
“Thank you.” Even to my own ears, my voice sounded choked. “No one has ever given me a gift like this before.”
“Well, you are most welcome.” Saragus stepped forward and absently brushed a strand of hair behind my ear. “You should be showered with gifts equal to your beauty. Remind me to scold Aiden for not doing so.”
Just as I was about to speak, one of the servants appeared in the doorway. “Forgive me, my lord, but your other guests have arrived.”
Saragus quickly moved his hand from my hair and stepped away, clearing his throat. “Thank you, that will be all.”
The Twi’lek bowed and backed out into the hall disappearing from sight. An uncomfortable silence filled the room. I wasn’t certain what had just happened, much less what to do about it.
Saragus cleared his throat again and motioned me to the doorway. “I will have someone take the armor to your quarters. For now, let us go and greet your friends.” Once again I felt the shift in his demeanor from warm and caring, to cold and professional.
I nodded and let him lead me out of the study.